Name That Tune

Name That Tune
Name That Tune
Namethattune title.JPG
Format Game show
Created by Harry Salter
Presented by Red Benson (1952–1954)
Bill Cullen (1954–1955)
George DeWitt (1955–1959)
Richard Hayes (1970–1971)
Dennis James (1974–1975 daytime)
Tom Kennedy (1974–1981 nighttime, 1977 daytime)
Jim Lange (1984–1985)
Narrated by Johnny Olson (1958–1959)
John Harlan (1974–1981, 1984–1985)
Country of origin United States
No. of episodes 195 (1984–1985 version)
Executive producer(s) Harry Salter (1952–1959)
Ralph Edwards (1974–1981)
Sandy Frank (1984–1985)
Running time 30 minutes
Original channel NBC (1952–1954, 1974–1975, 1977)
CBS (1954–1959)
Syndicated (1970–1971, 1974–1981, 1984–1985)
Original run December 20, 1952 – September, 1985
Followed by Name That Video (2001)

Name That Tune is a television game show that put two contestants against each other to test their knowledge of songs. Premiering in the United States on NBC Radio in 1952, the show was created and produced by Harry Salter and his wife Roberta.

Name That Tune ran from 1953–1959 on NBC and CBS in prime time. The first hosts were Red Benson and later Bill Cullen, but George DeWitt became most identified with the show.

Richard Hayes also emceed a local edition from 1970–1971, which ran for 26 weeks in a small number of markets. However, the best-remembered syndicated Name That Tune aired once a week (expanded to twice a week for its final season) from 1974–1981 with host Tom Kennedy. The series was revived for daily syndication in 1984, and its lone season was hosted by Jim Lange. For the last two of these series, John Harlan served as announcer.

The orchestra was conducted by Bob Alberti (1974–1975), Tommy Oliver (1975–1978, 1984–1985), and Stan Worth (1978–1981). A second band, Dan Sawyer and the Sound System, was also featured from 1978–1981. Beginning in 1976 and continuing for the remainder of the weekly syndicated series, as well as for the entire 1984 run, the show's title became The $100,000 Name That Tune.

Featured vocalists during the 1970s run of the show were Kathie Lee Gifford, then going by the name Kathie Lee Johnson, Monica Burruss, also known as Monica Francine Pege, and Steve March. The show also featured choreographers Jerri Fiala and Dennon Rawles during the 1978–1979 season. The 1980s syndicated series did not feature any singers.

Two daytime Name That Tune series were broadcast by NBC during the 1970s. The first debuted on July 29, 1974, with Dennis James hosting. The second debuted on January 3, 1977 and was hosted by Tom Kennedy. Both series were lower-paying editions of the concurrent syndicated Name That Tune, and neither lasted long- James' Name That Tune ended on January 3, 1975 and Kennedy's daytime series ended on June 10, 1977.

Ralph Edwards produced the 1974–81 series, including the daytime episodes. His syndicator, Sandy Frank, produced and staged the 1984 series by himself.



1950s version

The contestants stood across the stage from two large ship's bells as the band started playing tunes. When a contestant knew the tune they ran across the stage to "ring the bell and name that tune!" Four tunes were played every game, and each tune was worth increasing dollar amounts. The first tune was worth $5 and each subsequent tune was worth double the previous tune, up to $40 for the fourth and final tune. The player with the most money after four tunes won the game and played the bonus game called the "Golden Medley."

From 1955–1959, only three tunes were played worth $10, $20 and $30. If both players were tied at $30 each, both played as a team in the Golden Medley.

1970s and 1980s versions

Two contestants selected from the studio audience competed in various games to earn points as well as cash and prizes.


Each of the first two games awarded 10 points to the winner and the winner of the third game scored 20 points. After the third game, the contestant with the most points proceeded to the "Golden Medley" bonus round. If there was a tie at the end of the game, one last tune was played, and the first contestant to buzz-in and name that tune then went to the Golden Medley. The games alternated in each daytime or syndicated version, however the rules to each game are explained below.

Bid-a-Note: The host read a clue to a song and the contestants alternated bidding as to how few notes they needed to identify the song. Each contestant stated their bid to their opponent in the infamous format "I can name that tune in six notes." Bidding ended when one contestant challenged the other to "Name That Tune". Bidding also ended when one contestant bid one note or (rarely) zero notes, with intent to identify the song from only the clue read by the host. The first contestant to score three tunes (two in the 1970s versions) won 20 points and a prize (most often a trip). This game is one of the most recognizable aspects of the television versions of Name That Tune.

Build-a-Tune: The orchestra played a tune starting with minimal instrumentation and gradually added more until it became a full orchestral arrangement. The player who named more tunes out of five received 10 points and a prize package. If both players were tied, each received five points and the prizes. This game was played only on the short-lived 1977 daytime version.

Cassette Roulette: Eight over-sized 8-track tapes were displayed, each containing a category. Contestants alternated in choosing a tape, and the corresponding tune was played. Four of the cassettes also contained a bonus prize, which would be awarded to the contestant who named the tune. Seven tunes were played, and the contestant who named the most tunes won the round and 10 points. This was played during the first few months of the 1970s syndicated version.

Melody Roulette: A wheel was spun onstage to determine a cash prize for identifying the tune. Early in both the daytime and syndicated versions the wheel contained categories. Each contestant selected a category before each spin and received $100 if the wheel stopped on their choice. However, the categories were later replaced by money amounts ranging from $20–$1,000 from 1974–76, $50–$1,000 from 1976–1977, and $100–$1,000 from 1977–1981 on the syndicated version and $50–$500 on the 1977 daytime version. Also, during early playings on the syndicated version, each contestant selected a $200 space on the wheel. If the wheel landed on one of those spaces, that contestant won $200 automatically prior to the start of the tune.

An outer wheel was added in 1976 which held two spaces marked "Double" and was spun in the opposite direction of the inner. From 1977–1979, it also featured a space offering a new car, but the car could be won only once per episode. In 1979, this was replaced by two generic "prize" spaces, which worked the same way, along with only one Double space. On the 1980s version, up to seven tunes were originally played and the dollar amounts initially ranged from $100–$500, with money awarded after every tune and the wheel spun again prior to the next tune. This was later changed to only five tunes and one spin for the entire round with dollar values increased to $250–$1,000. The outer wheel on the 1980s version featured only one Double space (three during the pilot episodes).

If both contestants were tied at the end of the round, five points were given to each contestant on the 1970s version, and a final tiebreaker tune was played on the 1980s syndicated version. On the 1970s version, all contestants kept the cash they earned, but only the winner of Melody Roulette got to keep the cash on the 1980s version.

Money Tree: Both contestants were given their own "tree" with 100 $1 bills on it. While one contestant tried to guess a tune, his/her opponent would remove bills as fast as possible from the first contestant's tree until that contestant guessed correctly or ran out of time. The contestant with the most money left on his/her tree at the end of the round earned 10 points and a prize package, though it wasn't uncommon to see both trees stripped clean. The game was retired because Kennedy didn't like its greedy nature[citation needed], and contestants had a tendency to cut their fingers on the metal clips that held the bills in place. The game was featured on the syndicated version from 1975–1977.

Pick-a-Prize: Another game played only on the 1977 daytime version, this one had the contestants shown an assortment of prizes, then alternating between listening to tunes and trying to name them for a prize of their choice each time. The first player to name three tunes won the round and 10 points.

Pick-a-Tune: Each tune would feature a list of words which included the words in the tune's title. Contestants eliminated words so that only the words in the title remained. This game was featured early in the first season of the syndicated version hosted by Tom Kennedy.

Ring That Bell: As on the 1950s version, two bells were suspended from the ceiling, with each contestant about 20 feet away. The first contestant to correctly "ring the bell and name that tune" scored a point. Five tunes were played, and the contestant who correctly guessed the most tunes won the round and 10 points. This game was seen only on the daytime version hosted by Dennis James.

Sing-a-Tune: After hearing a tune sung by the show's vocalist Kathie Lee Johnson, contestants wrote down the name of the tune. Johnson replaced any words normally part of the song title with "la-las." Three tunes were played and the winner of the round received 10 points and a prize package. If contestants were tied, each received the prize package and 5 points. The game was played only during the 1977–1978 season.

Johnson left the show around 1978 and was replaced by the team of Monica Burrus and Steve March Tormé, son of singer Mel Tormé and stepson of $64,000 Question emcee Hal March.

Tune Countdown: Played similarly to the Golden Medley Showdown, contestants attempted to name as many tunes as possible within 20 seconds. The clock stopped as soon as a contestant buzzed in to provide a response. The contestant who named the most tunes correctly won 10 points and a prize. This round was played on the pilot of the 1980s syndicated version only.

Tune Topics: A topic was shown to the contestants and five tunes in that category were played. Later, five topics were displayed and one was chosen randomly at the start of the round to be used for that episode. The contestant who named the most tunes correctly won 10 points and a prize. This round was played on the 1980s syndicated version only.

Golden Medley

The Golden Medley was a bonus round where the day's winner attempted to identify seven tunes in 30 seconds or less.

1950s version

In the original series, all the tunes played here were selected by home viewers. Each correct tune won money for the winning contestant as well as the home viewers. The first correct answer was worth $25 and every subsequent correct answer doubles the money. Naming all seven won $1,600 and gave a home viewer a chance to come to the New York studio where the show was taped at that time, and play along with the studio contestant in a special round called the "Golden Medley Marathon".

The Golden Medley Marathon

In the Golden Medley Marathon, the winning home viewer and the winning studio contestant worked as a team. They had 30 seconds to name five tunes, and doing so won $5,000 each. They come back for up to four more weeks, meaning that five successful Golden Medley Marathons won them each $25,000.

1970s & 1980s versions

In these versions, prizes were awarded for each correctly identified song. If the contestant gave an incorrect answer at any time during this round, the game ended immediately. However, the player could pass on a tune by buzzing in and saying "pass". If time remained on the clock after all tunes were played, the contestant could attempt the passed tune(s) again. Except for the Dennis James version, naming all seven tunes in 30 seconds won the entire prize package. From 1976 to 1978 and during the Jim Lange version, doing so also won the chance to return to the show in a later episode (or episodes) in an attempt to win the $100,000 grand prize.

Daytime version

On the NBC daily version from 1974–1975, the Golden Medley consisted of six tunes. Each correct response was worth $200, and naming all six in 30 seconds was worth $2,000. Whether or not a contestant won the Golden Medley, that contestant returned the next day. Five-time winners received a car and retired undefeated. Later in the show's run, it was changed to five tunes per day, and only four wins needed for the car, but a contestant had to win the Golden Medley in order to return the next day. On the 1977 daytime version, each tune was worth $250 in prizes, and all seven won $2,500 in prizes.

Syndicated version

In the 1970s weekly version, each tune was worth $500 in cash and/or prizes (usually, a contestant who got six won a car on the nighttime version), and any contestant who named all seven tunes won a $15,000 prize package. Starting in 1976, a $15,000 winner returned at the end of the next week's show to try to identify one more "Mystery Tune" for a $100,000 cash prize.

The $100,000 Mystery Tune

The contestant entered into a Gold Room backstage, where security guard Jeff Addis opened a safe to reveal a carousel with manila envelopes on it. After selecting an envelope, the contestant was escorted the onstage into an isolation booth (which was wired so that they could only hear Kennedy and the piano). Then Addis opened the selected envelope, handed "The $100,000 Pianist" (depending on the version, either Michel Mencien or Joe Harnell) the sheet music for the song, and handed Kennedy a sealed business-size envelope. The pianist then played the song while a 30-second timer counted down. Once the timer reached 10 seconds, the piano player stopped, and the contestant in the booth (who was allowed to give only one answer) had to guess the song's exact title before the timer expired. After the contestant exited the booth, Kennedy then opened the envelope and read the background information and copyright for the song. An audio recording of the contestant's guess was played, and Kennedy announced the song's title. If the contestant guessed correctly, they won $10,000 a year for a decade. The Mystery Tune was also featured on the 1977 daytime Name That Tune, but was played for $25,000 cash.

The tunes were usually songs featuring music that contestants and viewers are familiar with, but whose titles were either unknown or not easily discernible.

Two contestants won $100,000 in 1976, and three in 1977, including one that had been told at first that his answer was incorrect (he said "If You Will Marry Me", and the answer Kennedy had was "The Bus Stop Song"), only to be brought back when the show's musicologists discovered that a song called "If You Will Marry Me" existed with the same music.

$100,000 Tournaments

In 1977, eleven of the twelve Golden Medley winners who did not win $100,000 returned for a three-week tournament (the twelfth was taking a 52-day Mediterranean cruise at the time, which was one of the Golden Medley prizes). In the first two weeks, five or six players competed in an otherwise normal game, except that in Melody Roulette, only the first two players to answer two tunes continued, and the Golden Medley was turned into a competitive game called Golden Medley Showdown (the clock stopped when either player buzzed in or five seconds elapsed) worth 20 points, while Sing a Tune and Bid a Note each scored 10 points. The two winners came back on the third week, playing Melody Roulette, Sing a Tune, and Bid a Note for 10 points each, and Golden Medley Showdown for 30, to determine the $100,000 winner. Unlike the mystery tune prize, this $100,000 was in cash and prizes. Runners-up won $2,500.

In 1978, the mystery tunes were removed, and the show (which had switched to a disco set and theme) consisted entirely of nine-week "blocks". The first six weeks consisted of two-player games, featuring Melody Roulette, Bid a Note, and Golden Medley Showdown. The six winners returned for a three-week tournament, played like the 1977 tournament, except that as Sing a Tune was no longer played and a second round of Melody Roulette was played after one of the three players was eliminated. After six episodes played in this fashion, the six winners return to play, three at a time, over two episodes. Every ninth episode would be a tournament final. The winner of each tournament won $10,000 a year for the next ten years, while the runner-up won a car. A number of celebrity specials filled out the season.

1984–1985 version

Each tune was worth at least $250 in prizes. If the player correctly named all 7 tunes in 30 seconds, they also won a trip and the right to compete in a monthly Tournament of Champions. The rules for the tournament were modified for this version, with each episode featuring anywhere from two to four contestants. "Melody Roulette" was not played in semi-final games unless there were only two contestants competing. In most semi-final games, Melody Roulette was replaced with a round where three or four of the month's winners competed for two spots in the main game, with contestants needing to guess two tunes correctly to move on. Following the qualifying round, "Tune Topics" and "Bid-a-Note" were then played for 10 points each, and "Golden Medley Showdown" was then played for 20 points. Whoever had more points (or won a single-tune tiebreaker, if needed) advanced to the finals.

During two-player semi-final games and the finals contestants played "Melody Roulette", "Tune Topics", and "Bid-a-Note" with their regular point values followed by "Golden Medley Showdown" for 40 points.

The winner at the end of the tournament won $10,000 in cash, a new Pontiac Fiero, an emerald and diamond necklace, a Schaefer and Sons grand piano, a Hitachi home entertainment center, a pair of Jules Jurgensen watches, a spa from Polynesian Spas, a Caribbean vacation, and one week a year in perpetuity at a timeshare resort in Palm Springs. The runner up won a trip (usually to Hong Kong) worth about $2,500.

For several weeks of non-tournament shows in late 1984, a "Home Viewer Sweepstakes" was held. The day's winner picked a name out of a drum, then randomly selected one of the above prizes. A Golden Medley win earned that prize for the home viewer.

The Lange version premiered with a "Super Champions" tournament, featuring fourteen $100,000 winners from the Kennedy version competing for a second $100,000. The tournament was won by Elena Cervantes.

Name That Video

Name That Video was a variation that aired from 2001–2002 on VH-1. The show was hosted by Karyn Bryant and featured contestants competing to name song titles by viewing the music video.

International versions



Hast du Töne?, hosted by Matthias Opdenhövel, aired daily on VOX from 1999–2001. Gameplay was somewhat different from the US version, but the final round was the same as the Golden Medley.


Ugaday Melodiyu, hosted by Valdis Pelsh, aired daily on ORT from 1995–2000. It was produced by the VID TV Company. The version was presented like the German version. Later, the series was presented as Ugadai i ko called Ugadaika, by Pelsh also, but it was not as successful as the first version. In 2003, the program was revived and aired for two years on Channel One (Russia). Gameplay remained the same and the only difference was the size of prizes.


Qual é a Musica, hosted by Silvio Santos, has been a hit on SBT for the past two decades. The show is currently placed on hiatus, pending cancellation.


Il Musichiere aired on Saturdays from 1957–1960 on the then-named Programma Nazionale, however ended after host Mario Riva accidentally fell from the stage and subsequently died. Sarabanda, a similar program, aired from 1997–2004 on Italia 1.


Jaka to melodia? airs 7 days a week on TVP1. First episode was broadcast on 4 September 1997. The program is hosted by Robert Janowski, an actor and singer.


The show called Nốt nhạc vui was aired from January 14, 2004 to March 25, 2009. It became popular and it was among the most watched TV series of Ho Chi Minh City Television. Thanh Bach served as the host.


Versions also aired in Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Ukraine, Poland, and Spain. Recently, Romania and Hungary launched versions of the show. Other countries to get versions include Morocco, Portugal, Slovakia, and Turkey.

Episode status

The 1950s version was likely destroyed, given network practices. The March 10, 1955 episode (with Bill Cullen) and a highlight episode from the final season (with Johnny Olson announcing) are known to exist. Episodes from 1954, 1956, and 1957 are held by the Paley Center for Media.[1]

The status of the locally produced Richard Hayes series and the NBC daytime series hosted by Dennis James and Tom Kennedy are unknown. It is unclear whether any of the stations that aired Hayes' version kept their tapes, but the James and daytime Kennedy versions were likely destroyed given NBC's practices that continued into 1980. A clip from a James episode was used in a 1988 "Game Show Hosts Special" episode of FOX's The Late Show, and a full episode from December 26 was discovered in February 2010.

The syndicated Kennedy run is intact. Since producer Ralph Edwards' death, the episodes are in the possession of his estate.[2] Additionally, an end of season blooper reel, featuring Kennedy, Oliver, Harlan and other show staffers cutting up at the end of the 1975–1976 season (with Harvey Bacal conducting the band) in a mock game, has been circulated on YouTube.

The 1984 syndicated series is fully intact and was rerun on American television on a fairly heavy basis for almost a decade. CBN was the first to air reruns of the series, from September 2, 1985 to August 29, 1986 USA Network picked it up on January 2, 1989[3] and ran it until September 13, 1991.[4] The Lange series was last seen on The Family Channel, which aired it from June 7, 1993[5] to March 29, 1996.[6]

Arcade game

In 1986, a coin-operated arcade game based on the show was released by Bally Sente, created by Owen Rubin. The player's task was to guess the tune being played from among four choices. It also featured a two-player mode. While playable, some gamers consider the machine's difficulty to be high due to the technical limits of the very basic synthesized music the machine was capable of.

Wireless version

In 2003, a wireless phone version of the game appeared on major U.S. cellular providers. The game follows the traditional format, with MIDI interpretations of popular and classic music played in short clips. The player then has several seconds to correctly identify the tune. Prizes such as free ringtones were available, a first in the mobile industry.[7] The game is often mentioned as a pioneer in the emerging wireless entertainment industry.[8]


  1. ^ "The Collection Search Results". The Paley Center for Media. Retrieved 24 May 2011. 
  2. ^ "All in the Game: The "Lost" Episodes". The Game Show Convention Center. August 16, 1999. Retrieved 2009-04-23. 
  3. ^ The Intelligencer—2 January 1989
  4. ^ The Intelligencer—September 13, 1991
  5. ^ The Intelligencer—June 7, 1993
  6. ^ TV Guide—March 23–29, 1996
  7. ^ Mobile version
  8. ^ Pioneer in wireless industry[dead link]

External links

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